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How to Buy Dining Tables

Homelegance 1410-94 Elmhurst Leg Dining Table, Brown Cherry

Table Manners

While they were once a feature that was intended to be covered, these days, table legs can be as much a work of art as a table's surface. With so many sizes, shapes, styles and finishes to choose between, picking the perfect place to share meals and entertain guests can be incredibly tricky. It's not just about four pieces of wood holding up a bigger piece of wood anymore!

Be Purposeful

While formal dining table sets are hardly a thing of the past, increasingly families are gathering at their kitchen tables for more than just eating. If you look through design magazines, it seems a lot of activity goes on at a huge table that also doubles as an island, but even that could be considered extreme to some. So, how does one balance needs with aesthetics? Your best weapon is knowledge!

The question for you to ask yourself first (assuming you haven't already!) is where the best place to put your dining table would be. Do you want a cozy place for two next to the picture window or in a nook? Maybe you're hoping to fit a family of eight at a large shaker style that wears well, or something that doubles as a buffet table on the weekends?

Style isn't Always Everything....

While not the most critical decision to make when purchasing a new table, knowing what style you want will help to narrow your selection somewhat. The following are the most commonly seen categories:

  •  • Contemporary/Modern: Minimal, clean lines without much in the way of curvature
  •  • Craftsman/Mission: Clean lines, sturdy structure and natural materials
  •  • Rustic/Lodge: Distressed, rough-finished wood
  •  • Traditional: Hand-painted details, dark wood and curving lines are the hallmarks

Size Matters

When deciding on a table that suits your needs, keep the size of the room under consideration. Choosing a table too large for a room will make it virtually impossible to fit chairs and move about easily. Be sure to measure your room and plan where the table will go before moving on to other concerns!

The Shape of Things

Hekman 6-711 Dining Table, Copley

Returning to the question of purpose, we should next decide on what sort of shape to purchase. While there are some deviations, the most common dining tables will be as follows:

  •  • Round: Pubs and banquet halls alike use these, and so can you! While most round tables have multiple legs that you need to consider your chair configuration around, you can also purchase what is known as a “pedestal” base, where it has only one big “leg”. These can range in size from 20 inches for single occupant dining to several feet in diameter.
  •  • Oval: A more traditional choice, the oval is a lot like round in that it offers a more casual feel to the dining experience with the placement of guests and/or family. More traditional seating can be used with an arm chair at the ends to give these a more formal feel. They are especially excellent for hosting large parties, and many oval tables are actually products of a round table with drop leaf inserts.
  •  • Rectangular/Square: Perhaps the most quintessential type of dining table, the rectangular shape can start seating up to six and go on for as long as the consumer can imagine – with the largest of these types being known as Refectory and Trestle tables (think medieval dining hall). Like the oval table, the square can easily become a rectangle with an insert!

Under The Hood

While the surface of a table is vital not only to the choice of care and the look of a room, the legs are just as important! Here is a quick little list of things for you to keep in mind:

  •  • Four on the Floor: Ideal for families with long-legged members or “sprawlers”, this common configuration is best on square or rectangular tables, but can be seen on the rounds and ovals as well.
  •  • Put on a Pedestal:This striking design is especially great for saving space, and they tend to be more ornate that the standard four-legged designs. Most pedestal tables will have round tops, but there are always exceptions to the rule.
  •  • Hybrid Heaven:There's something really special about the combination of both legs and a pedestal connected with a bridging piece. While most often seen on patio tables, dining tables are enjoying the attention of designers bringing a classic concept indoors.

Are We Finished?

Not quite! While we've looked at the basics that make up the shape and size of dining tables and considered what you need according to lifestyle and use, the last thing we'll look at are the various pros and cons of different types of materials used in making them:


Wood Dining Tables:


  •  • Ages beautifully and scratches fade away naturally with use
  •  • Hard-wearing and long-lasting
  •  • Unpolished wood has anti-bacterial properties
  •  • There are a wide variety of finishes


  •  • Wood furniture is heavy and difficult to move
  •  • Often expensive if top grade woods are used
  •  • Prone to warping

Veneer Dining Tables:


  •  • The look of wood without its price
  •  • Does not warp, unlike wood
  •  • Impervious to water and spills
  •  • Wide choice of designs


  •  • Less lasting than wood
  •  • May chip at the edges

Glass Dining Table:


  •  • Its transparency promotes a sense of space
  •  • Modern and sophisticated
  •  • Easy to clean


  •  • Sharp, transparent edges can be dangerous
  •  • Attracts dust easily









Homelegance 1410-94 Elmhurst Leg Dining Table, Brown Cherry
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